Friday, 17 December 2010

Dirk Gently

OK, I rarely, rarely lose my temper. And when I do, I rarely vent it. It's a side of me I don't like, and who wants to listen to me sound off?!

But today I have to. Last night I saw something that almost had me in tears, that I'd been looking forward to every since the BBC announced it was in the making. Tears of bitter disappointment, of betrayal, of sadness.

I'm referring to the drama of 'Dirk Gently' on BBC Four. Misnamed (because there was very little of the book remaining in the piece), and misrepresented. A travesty. Someone has ripped the heart and soul from one of my favourite books. They had removed the scifi elements, the deranged poetry of Coleridge, the spires of Cambridge, the quirky humour and one of the main, and to my mind, most glorious characters. The remaining characters were a pale and feeble shade of their previous selves. The remaining story was tedious drivel.

No offence to the actors, particularly Stephen Mangan who, I felt, gave a good rendition of the character Dirk Gently. And usually the BBC delivers. But I was deeply disappointed by the resulting adaptation, and now fervently pray that, if this is an example of how they render Dirk Gently, the BBC will leave the other Douglas Adams books well alone. My advice - go and read the books, if you haven't already.

You can find more information on the episode on the BBC website, and if you are in the UK, you can even watch the episode on iPlayer if you missed it last night. You can also read Stephen Mangan's view on the adaptation by clicking here.


  1. Oh, and just to be clear, I know the BBC did radio and tv adaptations of the Hitch-Hiker's Guice to the Galaxy - sadly, I am old enough to have watched them! Perhaps if they'd serialised the Dirk Gently book in the same way, it could have retained more of the original.

  2. Well done on the diplomacy :-) I think what Stephen says is important - there is no way the books can be adapted for TV ... so therefore as far as what was filmed, it's perhaps a good program, but it'll never be what the books are.

    For the record, I neither watched the programs nor have read the books.

  3. There was just so little of the original story remaining that, for me, it completely missed the mark. And, sorry, but that's rubbish - that the books can't be adapted for tv! The main storyline of this book was originally a Doctor Who story called Shada which, due to strikes, was never finished. But you can watch the pieces that were filmed, even with the dodgy 1970's sfx. It could have been done.

  4. I think that he meant that in one hour, one couldn't do justice .. but perhaps it'd be better in episode form ....

    Ag, I don't know. The point is, it didn't work.

  5. Totally agree with your post. It's such a shame that they feel the need change the story and not do Douglas Adams' work justice.

    In reference to your comment above the BBC Radio 4 series was the FIRST version of HHGTTG and the book and TV versions were adaptions of that. The difference is that they were adaptions that Douglas Adams did or at least oversaw.

    Also, the BBC recently serialized Dirk Gently's Detective Agency on Radio 4. Thankfully, they kept to the plot pretty much in tact but the casting wasn't right for me. Harry Enfield as Dirk Gently?

    PS. found this via Twitter

  6. Thanks, Matt. Yep, I was aware the book came after the first radio version - as you say, Adams was involved with them all which I feel made the difference. I didn't know they had serialised Dirk Gently on the radio - I shall try looking that one up and see how it compares! I can't imagine Enfield as Dirk - surely better cast as Gilks?!


I always love to hear your thoughts.